I Can’t Stand Constraints, What Does That Say About Me?

Last updated by Katie M.

As we grow up, we learn that constraints are part of life. We have to submit, obey, respect rules and when we play the game, those who refuse constraints appear as great free spirits, who are strong and brave. But if I don’t accept constraints, what does that really say about me? Am I really free or subject to my own inner tyrant?


Even the books on caring education say it: constraint is necessary to raise your child and prepare them for life. No, not all our desires can be satisfied, but above all, constraint as part of education also allows us to learn how to make choices. Choice doesn’t exist without constraint or desire. But without constraint, there’s no desire, and our own desire is the true source of our freedom.

I can’t stand having things imposed on me? Am I free?

Constraints are a set of bans and obligations in a given environment. A person who refuses constraints and can’t stand them is someone who systematically goes against any authority and puts their freedom before anything else… and often needs to show themselves as free in the eyes of others. Sometimes we admire these people who have the courage to put their freedom above everything else.

But you know what? In researching for this article, I frequently found stories of people who couldn’t stand constraints and suffered from it. The reason is simple: refuting constraints is a constraint in itself.

Following your own compass

A person who is constantly opposed to authority, who can’t stand having things imposed on them or being compelled to do something, is someone who hasn’t evolved and who is still in a position of childish submission. But beyond this immaturity, they also live in the illusion of freedom. Going against the grain forces them to act according to an external compass and not to listen to their inner compass, and therefore not letting themselves be guided by reason. A free person is someone who is guided by their values and principles, capable of depriving themselves in order to be enriched. For example, I believe that everyone is free to move around as they wish, but I avoid walking on the road, driving too fast or cycling on the pavement because I take my own safety and that of others into consideration.

So how do we deal with an unfair constraint?

Everyone is looking for freedom, but how should we behave when faced with an irrelevant order? We have two choices:

  • I’m free, I wish to remain so, to be in accordance with my values and therefore refuse this constraint, even if it means accepting the consequences, which will no doubt also be restrictive.
  • I’m free, but faced with this order, I can’t assert myself as much as I’d like. I accept this constraint so as not to have to suffer the consequences and not to encourage my inner tyrant that imposes systematic opposition on me.

In any case, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Indeed, freedom has a psychological cost that must be borne: fear of judgement, disapproval, guilt, questioning, loss of self-confidence, etc. It’s important to accept these uncomfortable emotions in order to allow yourself to let go of what’s been lost. Because refusing or accepting a constraint always, inevitably leads us to lose what is precious and reassuring.

I don’t want to work: ➡ I refuse the constraints of work ➡ I accept to live with the means at hand, but in accordance with my principles and my vision of life. Or I don’t want to work ➡ but I still accept the constraints of work ➡ I choose to put up with a state that goes against my values, but I have the means to otherwise access another form of freedom that fosters my self-fulfillment and psychological well-being.

>>> You may be interested in this article: I hate working, so what?!

The usefulness of constraints

Constraints are therefore a limit. As a freedom seeker, it’s normal for humans to find it difficult to bear, but constraints don’t prevent us from making choices that determine us. We have to keep asking ourselves what we do with this constraint and this question pushes us to be more creative, to be introspective and make progress in life because we always have to find ways and strategies for a constraint to be circumvented or useful so that our psychological needs are satisfied.

During the lockdown in March 2020, which was one of the most striking and important constraints of the last few years, most of us learned to get around this loss of freedom by creating, learning, sometimes cheating a bit, getting closer differently and taking time. In any case, we invented ways to deal with the constraint according to our own aspirations and values. So it’s up to us what we want to do with the constraints that inevitably impose themselves on us. One thing is certain: refusing them doesn’t necessarily make us freer.

Editor’s note: Beware of the emotional bomb!

If you can’t get around them, constraints turn into frustration, and beware of the damage if you don’t know how to deal with this emotion! When it’s not handled properly, frustration can turn into a real emotional bomb or a permanent feeling of disappointment and demotivation. If you find it hard to accept constraints and manage the emotions this brings, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a psychologist. Together, you’ll be able to understand where this behavior comes from and how to put in place new, more valuable habits for your development.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!

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Article presented by Katie M.

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